Homebuyer Education & Financial Assistance
Before you start looking for a home to purchase, make sure you have good credit. The bank that you go to seeking a loan will check your credit record, so you should, too. If you find a problem, you can work to correct it and save yourself trouble down the road. Annualcreditreport.com provides links and details regarding the 3 credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You are entitled to 1 free report from each of these agencies in a calendar year.
The best way to determine how much home you can afford is to talk with a housing professional. Your bank may offer a free pre-qualification service, where they determine how much of a mortgage loan you can afford based on your income, debt, credit history and other factors. You can also use an online mortgage calculator to give you a rough idea of what you can afford, an example is the Zillow Mortgage Calculator.
Fluvanna & Louisa Housing Foundation
You can access financial help with buying a home through the Fluvanna and Louisa Housing Foundation, which offers homebuyer down payment assistance. This program is funded with support from the County of Louisa. Eligible households can receive a loan of up to $10,000 of the purchase price of a home. This program recently won an award from the Virginia Association of Counties for helping young families find affordable homes. Read more about the Fluvanna/Louisa Housing Foundation and the homebuyer program by viewing the Housing Vouchers, Ramps and First-Time Buyers (PDF) document and the Homebuyer Assistance Program (PDF).
In addition to the homebuyer down payment program, the Foundation also helps people who need temporary handicap access ramps and emergency repairs, including to provide indoor plumbing if necessary. The Foundation also administers Housing Choice Vouchers in Louisa County.
Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) Homebuyer Education Course
The State of Virginia now offers its homebuyer education on the VHDA Homebuyer Handbook website. This course provides a thorough introduction to some of the hard issues a potential homebuyer must confront. For example, a would-be buyer may need to improve his or her credit rating, and may find that owning a home can mean monthly expenses greater than renting. The course will also provide advice about the specific steps one should expect in the process of buying a home, such as hiring an attorney and home inspector. Once a resident completes the course and receives a certificate, she becomes eligible for certain loans available through the Virginia Housing Development Authority. Learn more and take the course online on the VHDA webite.
There are several lenders in the Louisa area that offer mortgages and home improvement loans. As a potential homebuyer your job is to shop for a loan that suits you, paying close attention to interest rates, term length, etc. The following are mortgage lenders with branches in the immediate area that you might consider:
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
The USDA has various home financing programs for people living in rural areas such as Louisa County. Funding may be available to buy a home as well as to fix one up. The nearest USDA housing office is in Culpeper and their number is 540-825-4200. You can find information on financing options through the USDA website.
Housing Choice Voucher
The Housing Choice Voucher program, formerly known as Section 8, was created by the federal government to help people with very low incomes to afford to rent a home. The Fluvanna/Louisa Housing Foundation administers the vouchers in Louisa County. With a voucher, a tenant is guaranteed to not spend more than a third of their income on rent and utilities. Preference is given to local residents and people currently spending over 50% of their income on housing costs. To find out more about this program and if you may be a candidate for a voucher, contact the foundation at 540-967-3483.
Home Well Drilling
Many homeowners find that their water supply from their well is inconsistent, providing little or no volume at times. In many cases the problem is that they have an older, shallow well. Loans at 1% interest to drill new wells or repair old ones are available from the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, based in Roanoke. Loans can be up to $11,000 and are typically repaid over 5 to 10 years. Households with income up to $60,900 can qualify. To learn more or to apply, call Southeast R-CAP at 1-866-928-3731.